Telecom major Airtel on Sunday said it will provide mobile connectivity in 2,100 uncovered villages and national highways in the northeastern states over the coming 18 months.
This work is to be undertaken under an agreement with the Department of Telecom (DoT), a company release said here.
"Bharti Airtel has signed an agreement with DoT and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for provision of mobile services in identified uncovered villages and national highways in the northeastern states of Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh," the Airtel statement said.
Speaking to Telegraph, Ajai Puri, the chief operating officer (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said, "Airtel has been leading the expansion of telecom services in the Northeast and as the largest operator in these markets, we have gained deep understanding of the region. This project will provide a massive boost to telecom connectivity in these areas and truly connect them with the rest of India and the world. Customers in these areas can look forward to affordable world-class mobile services very soon."
As the largest operator in the northeastern states, Airtel will set up over 2,000 mobile towers and sites in unconnected pockets of the region to deliver telecom connectivity in over 2,100 villages over the next 18 months, it said.
For executing the project, Airtel would receive about Rs 1,610 crore from the DoT's Universal Service Obligation Fund to provide telecom services in rural and remote areas, the statement added.
The telecom giant said the infrastructure set up by it will also enable other service providers to offer services in a region characterised by tough terrain, as well as lower population density and connectivity.
Telegraph reports that there are 43,200 villages in this region and 21% of these villages have no mobile network of any sort. Airtel will become the only operator to offer 2G/3G/4G services in the region.
In 2014, the centre approved the implementation of a telecom development plan for the Northeast and estimated an expenditure of nearly Rs 5,300 crore.
(With IANS inputs)